CPSIA: Weighing Down Business, Productivity, Reasonableness

Walter Olson of the Manhattan Institute has been keeping up a steady stream of smart and pointed commentary about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, the legislation passed last year in the overheated political climate engendered by the Chinese lead-in-toys scare.

From Olson’s legal urblog, Overlawyered, “CPSIA: Part II at Forbes.com“:

Just as my earlier piece on CPSIA was going to press last Friday at Forbes there came a new development: Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), who sponsored the law and have opposed efforts to revisit it, issued a letter that seemed to soften their stance a bit and hold out hope for more exemptions. The magazine asked me to analyze these new developments and the result is up now. Unfortunately, the news is bad: the letter’s suggestions for exemptions are piecemeal, narrow, and much too late. We are still on course for a calamity should the law’s provisions go into effect Feb. 10 and (later round) in August — a calamity that Waxman and other sponsors of the law had every reason to see coming when they passed the bill last year.

In the mean time, as I point out, the Waxman/Rush letter raises the question of whether our leaders on Capitol Hill realize that ordinary children’s books are often bound with metal staples, and that toddlers seldom convey to their mouths such objects as bicycle tires and dartboards. The piece, again, is here.

More: In comments on an earlier post, kids’ wear entrepreneur Amy Hoffman says the New York Times still has not covered this debacle — a crucial point, since it’s hard to get an issue truly onto the news agenda at other highly ranked media outlets if the Times refuses to notice it (though some are covering the story anyway, as with Bloomberg in a pretty good piece today). There’s something truly crazy here, given that the Times plays a conscious role as a key trend-spotter in both the design world and the apparel trade, as well as the world of law and governance.

Waxman took over chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee this year, increasing his clout and ability to block any reforms.

UPDATE (12:25 p.m.): Rick Woldenberg, Chairman of Learning Resources Inc., is blogging on the bill’s excesses here, ” CPSIA – Comments & Observations

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